march 3rd, 1999:

by cjra

“please do what makes you happy, because you should always come first. love, mom.”

the notebook cover has a black & white cat on the front reminiscent of maurice, a childhood pet. after all these years the paper smells new. like glue and rainwater.

roughly a month before she died, my mother wrote a few journal entries in this notebook for me. the entries contained her advice about happiness, school, drugs, relationships with men, and other things. she apologized for leaving me at such an early age, and she listed some of the fun things we had done together. beach sunsets, disneyland, fog covered coastal trails. i still can’t read the journal without sobbing, seeing the dates up in the corner of the pages, noticing that she didn’t make it even a quarter of the way through the notebook before she began to slip into a cancer induced coma. the more sloppy her neat cursive became.

and i think the reason i love it so much is because i can run my fingers over the ink lines and feel her writing. that her voice still speaks to me in this little way, when i’m wondering what she would do in a situation. and she comes back to me–puts things in perspective. mind you, not all my questions can be answered, but i need those words. i eat them up, read them over and over, look for small pieces of herself in me. compare our handwriting.

lately, i’ve been wondering what she would do. if she would tell me to give up or hold on to a feeling so strong but so sickening at times. my love-goggles, my rosy eyes. if she would tell me to be careful with my heart when i have no idea what it’s doing or what to do with it. clues come in the story of my father–of how he made her believe in love again. that love-at-first-sight, love-at-college, love-after-five-minutes of simple talk sort of thing; i realized last night i inherited it from her, in a sense. the difference is, they had their time together. and if she were with me, would i have been whole & bold enough to be completely honest with you? but another person doesn’t make you whole, and this question doesn’t matter. but i ask it anyway. maybe i will always ask it. i see my life so clearly reflected in her love. the patterns we give to each other without meaning to; the patterns that make the days so clear.